Prompt: recommission; I Wish It Were Real
Sam drummed his fingers on the desk. He stood bent over it, unable to sit still in the chair any longer. They were almost ready. The progress bar on the screen seemed to go slower with every passing second. He watched each file being transferred from the computer; he could practically quote the code and data in them all, after so many hours of work. He saw code in his dreams. He ran mental simulations as he fell asleep and woke up with new modifications to make.
Sam looked back at the destination for all that programming: Blaze Starwaker. Sam could have spent the money to get the robot tweaked to look like Gibson, the actor who played Blaze in the movies. But those movies were terrible, not the real Blaze. Sam grew up with the cartoons and the bot looked just like the Blaze Sam had always imagined. Sam had known, the moment he saw the bot in the secondhand electronics store, this was who he had been looking for. He forgot about online dating profiles and the cross-department mixers. Blaze had been the only friend Sam had as a kid and he was all Sam would ever need.
The computer chimed as the last files transferred. Sam double and triple checked the logs to make sure everything had moved over correctly. Then he closed the simulator and unplugged the cable from the computer. He coiled up the cable, following it to the control panel set in Blaze’s back. When he closed the panel, it disappeared almost seamlessly into the Versimulate skin that covered the robotic framework.
Sam blushed as he unbuckled Blaze’s pants and tucked in the shirt that had been rucked up to get at the control panel. “Sorry, buddy. Just got to get you fixed up and we’ll be ready to go.” The clothing had cost a fortune and was harder to find than the robot to wear them. Sam had used tailors and, eventually, cosplay freaks to hand-sew every outfit Blaze ever appeared in. Sam did not laugh when the cosplayers joked about creating costumes for an outdated, campy kids show. He ignored the curiosity and scorn when tailors wondered why he wanted clothing for a modified sparring bot or why he would not permit them to measure and fit Blaze in anything less than boxers. It didn’t matter what they thought. Not anymore.
Last of all, Sam folded Blaze into the leather jacket. The leather, battered and faded in spots, felt butter-soft in his hands. That he had not needed to commission. It had been his twelfth birthday present. It had been enormous on him at the time and even as an adult it hung loose on Sam’s skinny frame. His parents had offered to find him a boy’s jacket, but Sam hadn’t wanted some kid’s mock-up. He wanted the real thing, just like Blaze wore. Now, the jacket fit Blaze like it had been made just for him with the rest of the clothing.
“Okay. Here we go. Wake up, Blaze.” Sam spoke in the clear, authoritative voice that let robotics know you meant them. Then, in his normal voice, he said, “Blaze? Can you hear me, buddy?”
Blaze’s eyes opened. Sam held his breath. “Spar Partner 3000 is online. Please select a training mode.” The voice fell flat and dead from Blaze’s mouth.
Sam recoiled in horror. He had already forgotten this was a bot, not a regular human. It sounded all wrong. Where were the voice files, the series scripts for memories, and the painstakingly rendered personality and reaction databases? “H-hang on. I can fix this. Oh, god.” Sam started paging through his notes and the dog-eared repair books and the sheets of schematics. He thought he had deleted all the original programming. There was barely anything left of the original hardware, anyway. While the sparring bot looked right, it did not have the computing power or memory space needed to become Blaze. In recommissioning it, Sam had overhauled all but the core frame and some circuitry.
Sam jerked off the jacket and pulled up the shirt to reconnect Blaze with the computer. He typed frantically. What if it didn’t work? There had always been a chance. Sam had made one modification, one little addition, which he half expected to ruin the whole thing. He had written himself into Blaze’s memories. What good was a best friend if they didn’t know who you were? Sam had taken a story he wrote when he was ten, fixed it up, and formatted it like the rest of the scripts from the show. It was an episode that never happened. In it, Sam got Connor killed off–he had never been good enough for Blaze and the team anyway. And Sam wrote himself in as the new member, Blaze’s right-hand man. But what if the style was wrong? What if he had not written Blaze convincingly? It could cause a critical failure in the personality programming.
Sam found one lingering file from the original program. Rewritten, it forced the bot to run on the programming Sam provided. Sam pulled the cables and snapped the panel shut without bothering to fix the clothing. “Wake up.”
“Nobody gets the best of Blaze Starwaker,” Blaze shouted. Then he blinked and looked around. Sam thought he would die from the anticipation. “Hey, Sam. What’s going on?” Blaze looked down at himself, movements as natural and familiar as Sam had imagined. “And where’s my jacket?”
Sam passed the jacket to him and was, for a moment, unable to let go and move away. “Sit down, buddy. I’ll explain everything.”